Here there be dragons...

"I'm telling you stories. Trust me." - Winterson

You should learn something new every day. I'm good for about a year now.

VERY long and exhausting day but I'm a little wired so figured I'd write, esp as the end of the day was So. Much. Fun!

So last year I was chatting with Amy and her parents and somehow the conversation revealed that her dad, Joe, has a sailboat - which he races.  And how very much I would love to try it :)  Which, kind people that they are, led to an invite to go sailing one night.  But my schedule being what it is coupled with Amy being away all summer nothing ever came of it.

The offer though was very sincere and made again this year.  And the very exciting part - the races are on Wednesday nights.  The one night I can actually play :)   Sweet.  And last week I actually had a Wednesday with nothing booked!  Woohoo!   Sadly though that didn't work with their schedule *sigh*   hahaha ah well, gamely try again and *this* week I got to go!  YEAH!

And then it was POURING rain *sigh*   The forecast of sun failed.  And I had no idea if they would even go in the rain, but would probably have gone anyways and then -- it cleared up!   Sweet :)   Amy told me later it's a rain or shine event, so would've been ok but likely not quite as much fun.   Sort of like eventing in the rain.

So I get there, super early and reasonably excited.  Call Joe and he tells me how to get to the right general area and meets me there.  And we get there and I'm thinking back to my high school days when all my friends had little sailboats and am expecting something like this:

Instead I see:

hahaha ok that might be a *slight* exaggeration *g*   But it sure seemed that way on first glance :)   I'm pretty sure the inside was bigger than my first apartment.   Admittedly that's not saying much, but a whole lot more than the "barely room to put a person in" I was expecting!

That one's more the general idea :)   Sadly did not have my camera for an actual photo, but it's the right general concept.  My apologies to anybody who actually *knows* anything about boats as it's probably horrifically inaccurate.  But it's hard to google accurate photos when you don't actually know what you're looking for *g*   I lurked Amy's pics to see if she had any I could steal, but no such luck :)   Like the non-horse-person describing the 19hh-fire-breathing-monster they rode on a trail ride:

Take it for what it's worth *g*

So I got introduced to the crew who were all awesome, welcoming, and incredibly patient with a *complete* newbie.  I learn fast, but I didn't even have time to google before I went so I literally knew nothing.  Put it this way -- I was moderately surprised by how many people were required (again, keep in mind the size of boat I was expecting!)  hahaha  so yeah, by this point I figure anything goes.  They were setting everything up so I mostly watched fascinated while trying to stay out of the way.  Not a lot of room for two-way traffic on one of these so that's more of a challenge than it sounds *g*

Now it turns out sailing's a lot like riding.   Rule # 1 - keep boat between sailor and water :)   Got it!

hahaha so knowing that important basic, we headed out.   A couple of the guys started trying to cram knowledge into my head as we were waiting for the race to start.   Some of it very useful - I would never have figured out what a halyard was in time if they hadn't told me :)   And some if it really interesting -- little details like the cheater-strings on the sails that let you know if they're doing what they should.  Very kewl.

Now waiting for the race to start sounds so quiet and peaceful... The perfect time to be learning random factoids.  Waiting for the race to start...  Ummmmm let's think this one through.  It's not like you can line these things up at the start line for an equal take-off.  Oh dear.   Picture xc without a start box.  A big warmup ring with all the warmup chaos and somebody fires a gun that means "5 minutes" and everybody tries to time it so their last jump and gallop puts them at the start line when the next shot goes.  Oh - and make that a novice warmup ring where you can't be certain the other guy knows the rules -- or has either breaks or steering installed.

Chaos.  Highly entertaining.  Slightly life-threatening.  Chaos.

And then have somebody put a hold on the course.   Seriously.   Just like riding *g*   Apparently the wind couldn't decide which way it wanted to blow *g*   Score one for Mother Nature.   But after only a short delay we were back on track.

Fortunately by this point I had complete confidence in our crew who, other than me, were all clearly very experienced and overly competent.  This was a non-issue for them as in-between intro-to-sailing lessons they got themselves sorted out in exactly the right place to be going the right direction at the right time and cross barely seconds after the "go" shot without even pretending to crash into anybody or be crashed into.

I was quite impressed by the communication between them and the timing.  Going out on XC it's only me and my horse -- I push my stopwatch at 10 seconds and away we go from a halt.  Running starts are decidedly frowned upon *g*   Here though, there is no halt option.  So they're timing their pace and distance from the start to match the 5 minute countdown so that they'll get there at exactly the right moment.  And of course you can't actually SEE where you're going from the steering wheel -- the sails are in the way.   So the helmsman has to rely on a navigator (and I'm totally making up titles here -- I have no idea what they actually call the person at the front of the boat, but it's not navigating gps/stars style...   One second....  Ok Google says that person is a tactician.  I have no idea if that's actually right or not, but sounds good to me :)   Anyways -- he was in charge of time and making sure we had enough space between other boats going various directions to make it without swimming.  Oh and while all this is going on - thirty other boats are doing exactly the same thing trying to be in exactly the same place at exactly the same time.   Tricky.

So my job for the day was grinding.  Lovely eh?   hahaha but I think it was a case of almost-idiot-proof combined with do-the-least-harm.  Basically whenever we were tacking or jibbing (HA - don't I sound like I know something?  That'd be turning to all you land-lover types.    hahaha just don't ask me to tell you the difference between them.  Suspect one goes into the wind and the other away from, but not actually %100 sure on that, nor do I know which one's which.  And Google's busy right now  >;-P)   Ok so back to my story -- whenever we were not on a straight course, I got to spin a crank as fast as I possibly could to help wheel in a rope.  Oops.  I mean a LINE.  Ropes are only ropes until they're attached to something.  Then they're lines.  Like dogs are only dogs until they're used to foxhunt -- then they're hounds.  hahaha so wheel in the line and get the sail to switch from one side of the boat to the other.  The pathetically sad part is, whoever was actually manning the line was, without fail, significantly faster at pulling it than I was cranking so I really wasn't helping much at all.   The only use seemed to be *after* it was pulled as much as possible, the crank added a lot more strength to get it pulled tighter.  Everybody pretended like I was doing something useful though -- really was a very supportive group and they answered every one of my million questions.  Those of you who've ever seen me try to learn something will know that part actually *isn't* hyperbole!

Oh, AND I also had the VERY important job of being "extra weight" to go sit on whatever side of the boat was highest and keep it down.  Yeah.  Pretty sure I failed that one too >;-P   hahaha I'd get to the right place at the right time, but I'm not sure the boat knew it *g*

So very much fun.   The course was incredibly simple, but then - my comparison is stadium and dressage.  Methinks dozens of sailboats trying to do a 20m circle, or better yet - a rollback!, while highly entertaining might be less than a good idea.  And seemed VERY short, but that was potentially because I was still having tons of fun and trying to sort everything out rather than actually being short.

We ended up in second and floated our way back with some commentary between the boats as everybody clearly knows each other -- fairly entertaining to listen to.   Docked and put everything away and then some really civilized cheese, crackers and drinks.  Mostly of the grown-up version but somebody managed to find a pepsi floating around for me *g*   I told you they were very patient :)

So yeah - learned a TON, had a BLAST, and met some really great people.   Not a bad way to spend an evening :)

Oh and one very important lesson - don't offer a sailor ice tea.  Just trust me on this one *g*


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